The Influence of Women in Rock Music


(Photo: Joan Jett & Cherrie Cure of The Runaways.)

Women in rock music, the never-ending ‘gender v genre’ debate. Over the years there have been many iconic females who have left their mark on the rock world, Courtney Love in the hard-rock band Hole; Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Cherrie Currie forcing The Runaways into instant stardom. Even more recent women in rock have already started to imprint the scene, from Gwen Stefani to Hayley Williams. Even so, the constant battle of whether a woman belongs in rock is on-going, is it really just a man’s place?

A constant argument, and rage amongst most feminists, is that a female is only appreciated in rock for the sex appeal; certain women have unknowingly supported this theory in their infamous actions both on, and off the stage. Courtney Love had a trademark move where she would apply an ‘x’ made from tape on to her breasts, then flash them at the crowd, obviously using her sex appeal to her advantage. Whereas, there have been the odd few women who have made as big an impact as a male in rock without the added obvious sex appeal effect. Gaye Advert from The Adverts is a huge example of this, Advert was named the “first female punk star” by ‘The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music’ and has, on multiple occasions, been referred to as “one of Punk’s first female icons”. Advert is still very much idolized by many females in rock music today.

Nowadays, being an established female in a band is a difficult thing to accomplish. It’s the constant battle of trying to keep up the appearance of being a band, not simply a female and a backup band, this is the main problem within bands that are full male, with the exception of a female vocalist. I speak from personal experience in saying establishing a female fronted rock band is also difficult in the fact that, each rock band nowadays fronted by a woman, all genre’s aside, are simply compared from the get go.

Furthermore, there is the growing interest over male influence on women in rock. Kurt Cobain, late front-man of Seattle based Grunge-rock band Nirvana, whose 90s influence still heavily remains in vast amounts of todays rock bands, Cobain was married to Courtney Love from Hole and it is believed Hole only reached fame due to that relationship. The argument of women being the main case behind a band breaking down is another huge downfall for women in rock music, Nancy Spungen being a prime example of this, despite not being an artist herself, she is infamous for being the major downfall of British punk-band Sex Pistols. Another example being Yoko Ono, who is blamed for the breakdown of The Beatles, this doesn’t bode well for actual female rock artists, it gives them the appearance of being a stereotypical “diva”.

Throughout many arguments through the history of females in rock, as to whether they deserve to have a spot there, despite it there are many iconic women whose standing influence on the genre can’t be doubted, they have completely impacted and changed the face of rock music, just as much as males have influenced it.

Rock music is still very much seen as a man’s world by many of it’s listeners around the world, it doesn’t change the fact that there are many women who have made massive impacts on the world surrounding rock.